The Ins and Outs of Commercial Photography

Commercial photography covers a wide variety of subject matter. This can include shooting products for ads, setting up interior shots for real estate or office spaces, or even taking pictures of a business’ employees at work. The main idea is that you are partnering with a business to tell their story.

Commercial photos are a great source of income for artists. With that comes some unique challenges, a lot of which have to do with your client relationship more than the art of photography. As you delve into professional photography you will find that good photos are just the beginning of a good photo business. Commercial photography is no exception.

Tell Their Story

There is a reason clients hire professional photographers for commercial projects. It’s because there is something they want to communicate to prospective clients. Your job is to find the best way to show that off in pictures.

Some clients will come to you with a clear vision. They may request specific shots or want you to focus on recurring motifs in your photos. Others will be less sure. This is where the power of your own personal style comes in.

It might be necessary to pitch the client a few different ideas once you understand what tools are available to you. This can mean the space, what the product is, whether any people are available for you to use during the shoot. The first conversation with the client can be thought of like a brainstorming session to understand exactly what they want and how you can deliver it to them.

After discussing what they need, come up with a clear plan of how you will deliver. The cost or amount of work for an agreed-upon rate should be settled before you start shooting. Write down your plan of action and let the client confirm this is the direction they want to go before starting on the project.

Understand Your Rights

When you are contracted to create photos, your skill is what is being purchased. The finished products must be used in ways you and your client mutually agree to. This final usage will also determine how you price your work. This should be the final part of your conversation with the client before shooting.

It is important to be clear upfront with your client. Find out what they want to use the images for and explain how they can use them. Some questions to ask:

  • Will the photos be used in a one-time project, like a magazine ad?

  • Will these photos represent their business across multiple platforms, such as social media, ad campaigns, websites, and in-store advertising?

  • Is your work going to be used in their company branding, meaning it will be how clients identify the company on shopping bags, in-store displays, or on the products themselves?

Physically Taking the Photos

Understand what kind of space you will be shooting in before showing up for the day. Is it a professional photo studio, or a work environment where people will still be doing their jobs? Another thing to think about is what equipment you should bring: for instance, if there is lighting available, it saves you lugging equipment through an office.

If you are working with models or employees, ask for a schedule of the times they are available for the shoot. Planning ahead will not only make the shoot go more smoothly, but it will also show your clients that you take their time seriously and that you will be well-prepared on the day of your appointment.

With these tips and good communication between yourself and your client, you can help bring their vision to life in your unique style. Don’t be afraid to ask in-depth questions: your goal is to make sure they are getting exactly what they want. Good luck!

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